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Natalie Florescu played basketball for a Christian college until she couldn’t be queer there anymore

Now an EMT, Florescu had to leave Westmont College for her own mental health and happiness

Natalie Florescu played basketball for the Westmont Warriors until she felt she couldn’t be her true self at the Christian college.
Natalie Florescu / Instagram

In a recent episode of the Point Run Along podcast, gay former Westmont College basketball player Natalie Florescu talks with Hannah Lichtenstein about the struggles of being an LGBTQ athlete struggling with her identity at a deeply Christian college.

Westmont College is located just east of Santa Barbara, Calif., and competes in the NAIA. The school is on Campus Pride’s Worst List for the school’s history of anti-LGBTQ actions and policies, including apparent action taken in 2016 to undermine discrimination protection for LGBTQ students.

Before attending Westmont, Florescu (as with every student) was made to sign a form acknowledging that “homosexual behavior” on campus was banned.

“That was something I had a really hard time with,” Florescu told Lichtenstein. “A lot of my close friends who did kind of know I was struggling with my sexual identity, it felt like they were disappointed in me, because that was something I knew I would have to sacrifice a little bit. And it definitely played a role in me transferring out.”

Some may ask why Florescu would go to an anti-LGBTQ school as she struggled with her identity. She and Lichtenstein talk about her family’s financial situation, as well as her personal growth at the time, that pushed her to Westmont. Still figuring out who she was at 18, Westmont simply seemed to offer the best opportunity at the time.

From 2013 to 2015, Florescu played in 40 games for the Warriors. After those two years she transferred to Boston Univ., where she opted to play club basketball instead. She now lives in Massachusetts where she is an EMT and a high school girls basketball coach.

Check out her full interview with Hannah Lichtenstein on her Point Run Along podcast. You can also follow them on Twitter @runalongpodcast and Instagram @RunAlongPodcast.

You can follow Natalie Florescu on Instagram @florescutotherescue.